Is it worth attending antenatal classes?

antenatal class

So this is the question I asked myself. Reason being;

  1. the time it would consume mine and my partner’s time to attend and was it really worth it?
  2. the cost involved to attend those classes and again was it worth it (I was astonished to find that most antenatal classes were charging $300 for attendance! I mean how can people with not a lot of money afford to pay this and justify spending $300 to learn how to give birth?) and
  3. I really didn’t want to watch a birthing video! I’ve gone 31 years without watching one and the thought of watching one horrified me and I know that they would show this at the antenatal classes.

 

But given that fact that me and my partner had ZERO clue about labour. Neither of us have had friends who have been through labour so we literally had no clue about the process and the stages of labour. So I decided that it was best that we both attend antenatal classes.

I decided to see if we could find a free class somewhere as I couldn’t justify spending $300 on top of all the money we have spent on things for the baby so far.

I managed to find free antenatal classes at the RPA but the only catch was it was on during the day and during the week. Me and my partner were both working but thought we could try to fit it in during our work day.

We signed up for a 6 x 2hr per week class and a separate 2 hour breastfeeding class.

We began my antenatal classes when I was 28 weeks.

Within the first 10 minutes of our first class, they put a birthing video on and I just sat there trying not to cry. I wanted to cry not because it was beautiful or amazing, I wanted to cry because of the pain that I could see the woman go through and knowing that its something that I would need to go through just scared the hell out of me and as I looked around the class, I also saw the same horrified faces of the other pregnant women.

My partner looked at me and held my hand. He could see I was shocked and scared as hell.

I walked away from the first class thinking that was so unnecessary to do. To put a birthing video within the first 10 minutes of your first antenatal class! Anyway, we had signed up and proceeded to push ahead.

I found each class to be quite repetitive. They would go over the same things at some classes and I found it to be a time waster at times. They also spent time on doing “group activities” which I think was also a time waster. One group activity was listing the things a support partner should do and say. I just think those things are quite obvious. They are there to support but we wasted 30 mins going over that.

Another class that I think was a time waster was post-baby care. They go over how to swaddle a baby (with a doll), how to bath a baby and certain ailments of a baby that are normal or not normal i.e. colour of their poop, certain skin rashes etc.

The reason why I found this a complete time waster is because you don’t remember any of that stuff when the baby arrives and when you are at the hospital, the midwives teaches you how to swaddle a baby, there are also various classes at the hospitals for mothers to attend. They teach you how to bath a baby, breastfeeding classes, how to settle a baby and physio classes (well these were the classes at my hospital. Not sure if this is the norm at other hospitals).

We also spent a good hour going over the various ailments a baby could have. Now looking back, I don’t remember a thing and if I found something strange on my baby, I would be calling one of the 24 hour helplines to ensure whether its normal or not. To think you would be able to remember what is normal or what is not is unrealistic and the reality is, when you have your own baby in your hands, you are going to want to check with the professionals as opposed to relying on what was taught to you months ago.

Apart from that, it was also very time-consuming attending these classes. 6 weeks for 2 hours each class, it was exhausting and as I got more pregnant, I just didn’t have the energy to want to go but I did attend every class.

By the end of it, I did learn things that we needed to know. Things like when to go to hospital, the different pain relief available, the tools of intervention and what to expect after the birth although I don’t think it needed to take 6 weeks and 2 hour classes to learn all the vital things.

I did find the breastfeeding class very useful. It goes over the signs a baby gives when they are hungry as well as showing you the various positions you can breastfeed. I did remember this when my baby came along and watched for the signs to know when to feed her before she starts crying as well as trying the various positions to see which she liked best. This by far was the most useful class.

And if I had paid $300 for these classes, I would be mighty upset. It’s definitely not worth that amount of money.

So we finish the class and a couple of weeks after I finish the class I’m at home on my iPad looking at pregnancy apps and come across a really interesting app that I proceed to download.

I download the BabyCenter Birth Class application. This app is amazing! I wish I came across it before I signed myself up to attend the antenatal classes because this app went through everything the antenatal class went through and for me, in better detail.

I can’t rave on about this app more. First of all you have someone who talks you through the classes so you’re not having to read (I am so over reading! I feel throughout this whole pregnancy there is just more and more stuff to read!). The app is broken up into sections so you can refer to areas that you really want to know about now or you can just go through the class in order.

The app is very thorough in covering all aspects of labour as well as post-birth. They also have a section where you can jot down notes.

There is also plenty of references to links for further information on certain topics.

What I also loved is that they did include various birthing videos of various mothers and their stories around labour. So labour with pain-relief, labour without pain relief, a c-section and I watched all the birthing videos. I guess it’s because I was more prepared that I was about to watch a birthing video and I was intrigued to see the various labour stories (the videos used in my antenatal classes was from the 90’s! They were so old).

The other things I loved is that you can do the app at your own pace and also at a time that suits you and your partner. The both of you can watch it at your own pace, pause the video if you need to discuss something and when you close the app and open it again, it starts where you left off.

If I had known about this app before signing up to the antenatal classes, I would not have signed up to the classes and stuck to just using the app.

And the best thing! The app is completely free to download! And because its made by BabyCenter, you know it’s a reliable source of information and seriously the app has been put together amazingly. I was really impressed.

So my suggestion, if you and your partner are time poor, don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars and want the flexibility of learning at your own pace and time, then I highly suggest downloading this app as it really has all the information you need.

The only suggestion would be to take a hospital tour (which they usually do in the antenatal classes) and if there is a breastfeeding class, I would also suggest attending that only.

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What are your thoughts on antenatal classes? Worth attending? Have you done any online ones such as the BabyCentre app?

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